Post news RSS Innkeep Dev Feature - Cooking System Closeup

Last year I sat down with pen and paper and got to work designing the Innkeep cooking system. After some months of work it's shaping up quite nicely. Let's take a closer look!

Posted by on

Hi everybody! I haven't really posted regular articles on IndieDB in YEARS. Work has continued on Innkeep uninterrupted in the meantime though, so there is a lot of catching up to do. Let's take it one subject at a time. Today I thought I'd cover the cooking system...

But first... Did you know that Innkeep now has a Steam page? It's true! Go check it out, and hit that Wishlist button. More wishlists helps a lot with getting steam to recommend the game to people, or for when I try pitching to publishers for financing to finish the project.



From early on in the design process I knew I wanted Innkeep to have cooking included as one of the verbs the player can do. I also knew I wanted the game to be very hands-on. Rather than lots of UI inventory squares and abstract "processing" buttons, I wanted the player to actually grab and interact with objects in the world. This was easy enough to achieve with things like barrels, or piles of wood. You click on them, and the player sprite shows that you are then carrying them. For finer work like combining things with cooking though, I needed some form of UI. What I decided to do was make the cooking UI a kind of "zoomed in" version of what is already visible from the regular play space. So a close up of the kitchen table, for example, where you can grab and interact with different elements.

The first step was to take pen and paper and design how this would actually make sense as a hands-on system.


The kitchen table was basically a "processing" station. The actual cooking would happen later at the fireplace. But processing at least requires the stages of input, processing, and output. This means that the table would need some places where you can bring ingredients. These could be bowls at the top of the table. Then there would need to be a processing space. For example, a chopping board. Or for other recipes, maybe a mixing bowl. Then there would need to be an "output", which would be a cauldron, for example.


Then came the fun stuff. Quick and dirty prototyping with simple sprites. You can see in the picture above that there is a cauldron on the right. That's the output that can be then grabbed and moved to the fireplace from the regular playspace.


I was really happy with how this approach maintained the hands-on, tactile feel of the game. Having multiple stations for food preparation / cooking also means there is more room for variety. Notice for example there is a kind of oven space at the top end of the fireplace. This is where I'll have baking take place later.

Once I was happy with how the system worked, and the relative size / positioning of the sprites, I needed to give it a bit of visual polish.


Following with the theme of seeing behind walls / floors, or inside barrels, I wanted the cauldron interior to be visible when mousing over it. I may well need to re-work this later to have the contents sprite be more dynamic, depending on what kind of stew you are making, but this turned out quite nicely.


Creating decent looking ingredient sprites was a bit of work, as I needed cut up variations, but fortunately I only had to make 4 basic ingredients for now.


And here's how it looks overall. Nice, simple and intuitive.


Once the food has been prepped it's cooking time! The player can light the fire, and move the cauldron to it. A circle will then appear to show the cooking progress. After that is full, a "burning" circle will appear as well. If that fills up the food will be ruined, so the player better be careful!


Finally, there is the serving station.


The player can bring the cauldron (or other prepared food) to the serving bench, and from there get the food into bowls. After that, they can actually grab the tray with the bowl on it, and carry it over to the waiting guests.

When the Inn is busy later in the game, the player would probably be quite annoyed at having to manually ladle out a dozen plus bowls of food. Fortunately they will have an NPC to help them with these kinds of tasks.

I'm really looking forward to expanding this system further in the future. Off to the left of the kitchen is a pantry area. Right now it just has a single "washing" station prototype, where dirty bowls and tankards can be processed into clean ones. Later though it will have a butchering station, grain ark, ingredient storage shelf, and a few other neat things. As the game progresses the player will be able to gain access to lots of neat ingredients and recipes. This should really help add a bit of extra "flavor" to the game, pun intended. ;-)

Hope you enjoyed this little update. I'll follow up with another soon.

Do remember to drop by the Steam page and give us a wishlist!

DrHogan - - 78 comments

I love it!

Reply Good karma Bad karma+1 vote
BeerDrinkingBurke Author
BeerDrinkingBurke - - 43 comments

Thanks! ;-)

Reply Good karma+1 vote
Post a comment
Sign in or join with:

Only registered members can share their thoughts. So come on! Join the community today (totally free - or sign in with your social account on the right) and join in the conversation.